HC Deb 14 February 1967 vol 741 cc343-4
Q8. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Prime Minister if he will delineate the precise line of demarcation between the responsibilities for Foreign Office policy in matters of defence of his right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. George Thomson) and Lord Chalfont, respectively.

The Prime Minister

I would refer the hon. Member to the Answer I gave on 23rd January to a Question by the noble Lord the Member for Hertford (Lord Balniel).—[Vol. 740, c. 281.]

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

In that Answer the Prime Minister said that his right hon. Friend was responsible for policy to N.A.T.O. and Lord Chalfont for policy towards defence. Why is N.A.T.O. divided from defence? Is not this a pretty curious arrangement? While the Prime Minister is about it, can he explain why his right hon. Friend was taken away from dealing with Europe where he had established such valuable contacts in the past nine months?

The Prime Minister

I think I am right in saying that the hon. Gentleman was once in the Foreign Office. He will know the problems when it is necessary to have some division of the work on a regional basis and some on a functional basis. The Foreign Office has great responsibility in the matter of advising on questions of defence. It was right that these defence questions, including disarmament, which are very closely linked, should come in the junior Ministerial level under the care of my noble Friend, but all of them act under the direction of the Foreign Secretary.

With regard to the second part of the question, I felt that it was necessary to strengthen not only the economic department of the Foreign Office but to have more and continuing responsibility for European economic questions, so my right hon. Friend, who was the former Minister of Aviation, has gone to them. My right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. George Thomson) has responsibilities over a wide field including N.A.T.O.

Mr. Michael Foot

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the indication that he has given that the hon. Member for South Angus (Mr. Bruce-Gardyne) was removed from the Foreign Office is the best information that we have had from that institution for years?